Will these 20 Best Albums of 2019 (so far) hold up?
Believe it or not we are six months into the 2019. That is six months closer to the end of the decade. Six months closer to the 2020 election. Six months closer to people saying 2020 like Barbara Walters for a year. In April we claimed that the best albums so far were by British rappers, Little Simz (GREY Area) and Dave (Psychodrama). Not only have their albums held up on our lists of best albums of 2019 they are leading the pack. Here is our list of 20 best albums of 2019 (so far).
GREY Area, Little Simz
What the critics say: “It feels as if everything has come together in perfect unison, resulting in on of the strongest rap albums of 2019” – All Music. “What Simz does here is phenomenal. This is an album — and artist — to cherish.” – The Independent. “At once soft and hard, fiery and vulnerable Grey Area finds Little Simz thriving in her multi-facedness.” – The Guardian. “Little Simz’s latest — and greatest — album is divided between three emotional states: bravado, doubt and love.” – The Wire. “[Little Simz] crafted a knockout record. This is the best rap record of the year so far.” – NME.
What the critics say: “One of the most thoughtful, moving and necessary albums of 2019 so far.” – The Independent. “Unvarnished and emotionally raw, it frequently makes four tough listening. Equally, as a showcase for Dave’s talents, it unquestionably works. The lyrics are smart. thoughtful, unflinching and self-aware.” – The Guaridan. “Psychodrama is a bold statement from a rapper unafraid to ask tough questions of himself– and the often unforgiving world around him.” – Q Magazine. “In exploring himself on Psychodrama, Dave has produced a masterpiece.” – NME.
What the critics say: “Big Thief’s most empathic and ethereal work yet.” – The 405. “U.F.O.F., then, is an almost perfect album.” – PopMatters. “There’s a mystical bind to UFOF that grips the listener and never lets go.” – Uncut. “Thought they travel through the darkness spellbound by life’s biggest mysteries, they manage to emerge more at peace than ever.” – Rolling Stone. “An absorbing, mystical voyage that lingers in the memory long after morning has broken and the celestial observer has vanished.” – Clash Music.
What we say: “UFOF” is a dope fuckin’ song.
Remind me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten
What the critics say: “It’s her grandest and greatest evolution yet.” – No Ripcord. “Her music is generous in its illumination of depth. There’s a sense of solace on the record. Everything before was a hard reckoning, and she knows double is never far off, but she’s breezy here.” – NOW Magazine. “This isn’t so much an evolution, but a complete restricting of Van Etten’s sound. It’s her OK Computer if you want to get frank.” – Consequences of Sound.
What we say: We dare you to listen to Seventeen and not have it stuck in your head for weeks.
Dogrel, Fontaines D.C.
What the critics say: “This is the kind of songwriting quality that bands can take years to reach, or never each at all: brilliant, top to bottom.” – The Guardian. “These five Dublin lads prove their talent for painting is far form colours than just blacks and grey, and Fontaines D.C. have proved their worth as one of guitar music’s most essential new voices. ” – Clash Music. “Everything about Dogrel feels big, intense, bold.” – The Skinny.
What we say: Guitar music isn’t dead and “Liberty Belle” will be played at Rockaway beach all summer.
Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
What the critics say: “It’s as good an album by Rostam-less Vampire Weekend in 2019 as we could have possibly gotten, and the sound is a return to Vampire Weekend and Contra except arguably better.” – Pretty Much Amazing. “Vampire Weekend now look like the smartest guys in the room, marshaling a sumptuous emotionally complex music perfect in the pop music.” – Rolling Stone. “An album that could soundtrack an afternoon picnic or be used as fodder for a doctorate thesis on songwriting.” – Variety.
What we say:It’s Vampire Weekend.
Anger Management, Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats
What the critics say: “Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats operating at full throttle can be almost unbearably intense sensation to behold, like looking directly into the sun. Anger management finds them working in tandem to pair the adrenal bangers everyone expected with an abundance of slightly more sensitive and playful material.” – Rolling Stone. “Anger Management is a hell of a rap-production slapper, but most of all it’s a turning point in Rico’s evolution.” – Pitchfork.
What the critics say: “Schlagenheim is a fascinating record from start to finish.” – Louder Than War.
What we say:From the tacks we have heard this is an album and a band to keep an eye on.
Available on June 21st. For now check out their single “Crows Perch”:
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilish
What the critics say: “It’s enjoyable and familiar, but retains Billie’s disruptive streak.” – NME. “When We All Fall Sleep, Where Do We Go? is a brave and fortuitous debut album from the LA teen, capturing the hopes, fears and vulnerabilities of an entire generation. The genius in this record is its unaffected reliability.” – Clash Music. “When We All Fall Sleep, Where Do We Go? is an supremely exciting, innovative first move from a pop voice that feels utterly fresh and modern.”
What we say: Keep letting Billie be Billie!
LEGACY! LEGACY!, Jamila Woods
What the critics say: “Woods embodies the cultural makeup of Chicago, tackles the multiplicity of identity, and balances her dominance with flawlessly selected features that build her up.” – Consequences of Sound. “Woods, herself, a poet, singer, activist, and teacher, casts Legacy! Legacy! as a beacon for a type of self-empowerment informed by the predecessors who built and shaped culture.” – PopMatters. “Legacy! Legacy! is a fully realized follow-up, sure-footed in its blend of what was, what is and what might be.” – The New York Times.
What we say: If this is Woods’ only Legacy, then it’s a great one.
Cuz I Love You, Lizzo
What the critics say: “Cuz I Love You is absolutely splendid, a joyous album to put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and your booty on the dance floor.” – The Telegraph. “She’s got a sly sense of music history, which is how she can reach so far on Cuz I Love You.” – Rolling Stone. “Fearless and witty — an incredible album from start to finish, perfect for long days and ever longer nights.” – The Quietus.
What we say:No one owns 2019 like Lizzo and part of us would like her to own 2020 as well #lizzo2020.
IGOR, Tyler, The Creator
What the critics say: “The production here is superb. Tyler has never been one for traditional song structure, but on IGOR he’s like the Minotaur luring you through a maze that twists and turns around seemingly impossible corners, drawing you into the thrilling unknown.” – The Independent. “By closing the door on the philosophies and musical approaches he used to take, Tyler discover an open window, leading him to new, peaceful strength and mastery of his craft.” – Consequences of Sound.
What we say: 10x better than any album DJ Khaled drops.
Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones), Jai Paul
What the critics say: “And now [Jai Paul is] back anyway, thank fuck. Here’s hoping he’s back for a long time. Music needs him too much.” The Line of Best Fit. “An ability to control the uncontrollable is part of what made Jai Paul’s music so mesmerizing in the first place.” – Pitchfork.
What we say: We are not entirely sure what we are listen to, and we know Jai isn’t so happy with it, but we love it anyway.
What Chaos Is Imaginary, Girlpool
What the critics say: “Throughout the album, Girlpool illustrate the struggles of navigating expectations amidst the personal and musical changes Tucker and Divided have undergone in the past few years. The result in an impressive balancing act, a sound grounded in the band’s tradition that is nevertheless constantly pushing forward.” – Rolling Stone. “On What Chaos Is Imaginary, Tucker and Tividad have created an album that find the duo embracing their personal changes while still writing honest and deep lyrics. The harmonies and melodies on the album are far above those on past albums.” – Glide Magazine.
What we say: We have always at a soft spot for Girlpool and this album comes through.
When I Get Home, Solange
What the critics say: “A stunning effort. Solange creates such fully realized art that even when she may be expressing uncertainty and doubt, she’s charging herself — and her audience — with finding possibility.” Entertainment Weekly. “When I get Home is a challenging and satisfying follow-up to A Seat at the Table, one that will probably baffle some fans but intrigue and engage even more.” – Variety. “Solange’s growth as an artist has been one of music’s most fascinating stories, and, like A Seat at the Table, When I Get Home serves as a thrilling reminder that this is just the beginning of the futures she still has yet to unpack. If she can make a party-friendly album so meaningful, we’ve barely even witnessed the tip of her vision.” – Rolling Stone.
What we say: Solange is an artist and challenges the industry with ever record she drops.
Quiet Signs, Jessica Pratt
What the critics say: “Teasing out musical abundance from simple instrumentation, lyrics, and vocals, Pratt concertizes complexity and nuance. Quiet Signs is a staggering work of hushed beauty.” – PopMatters. “Quiet Signs is an utterly captivating record from its first second to its last.” – Q Magazine. “Pratt’s voice is still gorgeously muffled and her words remain indecipherable at times. But while she may have once sounded fragile, here she is almost swaggering.” – The Skinny.
What we say: It’s a mesmerizing album.
Flamagra, Flying Lotus
What the critics say: “Highlights are everywhere if you give them time to reveal themselves.” – Pretty Much Amazing. “Flamagra isn’t the first Flying Lotus album that can be enjoyed from beginning to end, but it still feels special. There’s a unity among these songs that exude emotion, like the warm comfort provided by a flame.” – Consequence of Sound. “Musically, it’s still dense and intense, with funk, jazz and electronics rubbing up against bumpy hip-hop. But the heavyweight line-up brings with it a welcome focus on songs.” Q Magazine.
What we say: One of the more inventive electronic rap albums of the year.
On the Line, Jenny Lewis
What the critics say: “If you like quality songwriting delivered with panache, On The Line is on the money.” – The Telegraph. “Jenny Lewis has never sounded this confident in her own skin.” – DIY Magazine. “Here, Lewis does what she does best: adds the glossy sparkle of Hollywood and a sunny Californian sheen to melancholy and nostalgia, with her most luxuriantly orchestrated album yet.” – The Independent.
What we say: Although we love the Walton Twins, this album is proof Jenny Lewis can really stand alone.
What the critics say: “.Paak manages to both evolve and remind us why we’ve always loved him in the first place.” – Variety. “.Paak’s newest project is less cinematic and epic than its companion piece but it’s just as ambitious, texturely rich, and bustling with pleasant surprises.” – HipHopDX. “Coming across as a familiar yet fresh sound, like a reconciliation of a past lover, Ventura’s soulful presence was crafted by time. Memorable and intimate from the start, Ventura completes Oxnard, as Malibu did to Venice; tying up all loose ends and graciously ready for the next chapter.” – No Ripcord.
What we say: It’s no Malibu but we can’t deny how fun Anderson.Paak is.
I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream, Tallest Man on Earth
What the critics say: “What a gorgeous, powerful album of self-discovery this is.” – Sputnikmusic. “While not peddling anything particularly new, Matsson’s legion of devoted fans will nonetheless find what they want and more in I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream. The skeptics will likely stay that way, but then you get the sense that’s the least of Matsson’s concerns.” – Glide Magazine.
What we say: It’s not his best by any means, but we are addicted to his voice.